Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
IBM Patents Games

IBM's Patent To "Capture Expert Knowledge" With Games 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-known-as-theorycrafting dept.
theodp writes "Robert X. Cringely offers his take on IBM's patent-pending way to suck knowledge out of experts and inject it into younger, stronger, cheaper employees, possibly even in other countries. IBM's 'Platform for Capturing Knowledge' relies on immersive 3-D gaming environments to transfer expert knowledge held by employees 'aged 50 and older' to 18-25 year-old trainees, even those who find manuals 'difficult to read and understand.' It jibes nicely with an IBM White Paper (PDF) that advises CIOs to deal with Baby Boomers by 'investing in global resources from geographies with a lower average age for IT workers, such as India or China.' While Cringely isn't surprised that Big Blue's anyone-can-manage-anything, anyone-should-be-able-to-perform-any-job culture would spawn such an 'invention,' he can't help but wonder: When you get rid of the real experts, who is going to figure out the new stuff?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

IBM's Patent To "Transfer Expert Knowledge" With Games

Comments Filter:
  • I see two problems (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:21PM (#29477275)
    First

    relies on immersive 3-D gaming environments to transfer expert knowledge held by employees

    This sort of interactive interface seems to be better suited to capture or refine 'gut feeling' reactions, instinctive responses to situations (like threats, etc.) rather than carefully thought out strategies for solving problems. Its better for developing quick reactions to problems like "Which alien do I shoot first?" I mean, what sort of 'immersion' does one use to extract knowledge from an expert? An avatar of a PHB screaming at employees to hurry up and get the engineering done fast? That's not the sort of knowledge we need to capture (witness the ongoing saga of the Boeing 787).

    I'd look for more of a text or conversational based Q and A system. But here's a problem for IBM. We've had those for a few decades now. They work just fine. No new patents needed here.

    he can't help but wonder: When you get rid of the real experts, who is going to figure out the new stuff?"

    When I see an industry starting down this trail, I think, "This industry is dying. Management doesn't see any future in product or process improvements. Where should I be investing my money now?"

  • Re:Wrong career. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:34PM (#29477353)

    Or the manuals are written in English, and IBM thinks that their "solution" is better than translating the manuals into Chinese.

  • Possibly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NoYob (1630681) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:43PM (#29477419)

    Or the manuals are written in English, and IBM thinks that their "solution" is better than translating the manuals into Chinese.

    The written word isn't that old in terms of human history. It was invented as the best way to use the current technology - making symbols in wet clay which was then moved to other materials then to paper and now to the computer screen. Before that it was oral. Writing isn't necessarily the best way to share information and it's the reason we have illustrations and photos and movies to help and augment the information being transmitted.

    As we become more and more sophisticated technologically, we will develop better methods of propagating information from one to another. Call it 3D, virtual reality, or alternative learning, there will be better ways and some would argue that there are better ways than the printed word: learning by discovery has been my personal favorite. The printed word is just too limited to share information completely; hence experience comes into play. If the manuals were enough, experience would be a no factor.

  • by retchdog (1319261) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:51PM (#29477467) Journal

    The innovation will come from acquiring startups.

    The rank-and-file workers of modern mega-corporations are basically welfare recipients. Their tangible day-to-day contributions, if there in fact are any, are dispersed through a miasma of powerpoints and politics. Reward is likewise twisted as it mapped through this noise. This patent/methodology is not surprising at all; in fact I find it rather fascinating, in that it's a black-and-white acceptance of the fact that most employees are superfluous.

  • Re:Wrong career. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:57PM (#29477505)

    Exactly what I was thinking. The group of people who "find manuals 'difficult to read and understand'" are not a target for software-based training methods -- at least, not outside grade school -- they are a target for replacement with software altogether.

  • Re:Possibly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @02:10PM (#29477591)

    Good point. But there's nothing new here. The written word is enhanced by pictures, charts, and tables. And, as recent (but not that recent) technology has allowed, embedded audio and video. But this isn't 'new' in the time scale of patents. We had embedded videos in aircraft functional tests and maintenance procedures years ago. Granted, it was a PITA back then, with only proprietary (and expensive) formats and input technologies. But the idea hasn't changed much with MPEG recording available in every cell phone and standards for embedding content in web pages. We also had systems that engineers could use to capture knowledge using a Q and A session that distilled underlying rules and techniques for linking into process and design standards.

    Nothing worthy of a patent here. Nothing new to see. Move along now.

  • Anonymous Coward (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @03:22PM (#29478011)

    There was an old SF short story about this kind of thing. Career education became an immediate process where the knowledge required to fill a job was injected into people. But those injections would be updated regularly, so that students given a more recent injection learned newer concepts than their peers, and had a better career as a result. But none of these students were able to invent anything new.

    The main character in the story is a kid who broke a rule, and read up on his career choice before he was given the injection. Instead of injecting him, they confined him to a room and encouraged him to read more books. He thought this was punishment at first, but then realized that he and the people like him, who valued the quest for knowledge over the following of procedure, were the people given the task of learning the old wayâ" through booksâ" and inventing new things.

    Does anyone out there remember the title of this story? I can't place it.

  • by gwappo (612511) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @04:37PM (#29478493)
    Parent is absolutely right, and this is true of many large companies today. Within IBM, there is too much focus on saving a dollar and doing things on the cheap, while missing the bigger picture and becoming ever distant to one's customers through intertwined cogs and wheels of process bureaucracy. There is a very strong innovative drive by doing your development in regions that have strong universities, a culture for innovation and local use and appreciation of the end product. Where that is depends on what you're doing. For cars, southern germany, for the web, california, for finance NYC and London.

    However, by outsourcing everything to China and India, you loose that innovative drive, which erodes your longer term growth.

    This is fine in only two cases I think, A) you don't care about the innovation of what you're developing (it's not your core business), or B) the type of work you're doing is extremely expensive *and* specialized (eg. chip design & manufacturing,) making it hard for an upstart to compete with you, even if your work is sloppy.

    IBM rarely innovates anymore aside from some of its hardware, I'm not aware of any genuine software innovations from IBM in, say, the last 10 years.

    The way large companies seem to be doing it now is by acquiring their way into innovation. I'm happy they do, because it makes startups that more valuable to do. Perhaps if large companies are changing their game, we engineers should wake up and adapt ours.. do more startups?

  • Re:Wrong career. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @07:24PM (#29479619)

    AFAIK we still don't have an AI which can read and understand manuals.

    Certainly. But most of the tasks performed by people who can't read and understand manuals can probably be performed by software, excepting menial physical labor that will eventually be performed by robots.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle

Working...